University Campus Suffolk
College buildings: artist's impression
Countdown begins for University Campus Suffolk
University Campus Suffolk (UCS) will welcome its first batch of students in September, with the whole county hoping to benefit from its introduction.
UCS is a joint venture between the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the University of Essex. It aims to provide Suffolk, currently one of just four counties in the country without a university campus, with a higher education institute that will boast:
Prospectuses have been sent out, applications have been received, and UCS' first batch of students are due to start their learning in September 2007. But despite their imminent arrival, work has yet to begin on the main campus on Ipswich's waterfront.
As a result, students based in Ipswich will spend the first year at the existing Suffolk College building - just a stone's throw away from the waterfront. Suffolk College as it is now will become New Suffolk College and will continue to offer further education to 16-19 year olds.
UCS will share the building for its first year but will have separate staff and students, with all their courses at a higher learning level. March 9 has been given as a proposed date for construction to begin on the UCS headquarters.
County wide learning
With the state-of-the-art campus about to dominate the town's regenerated waterfront, it will be Ipswich that provides the eye-catching landmark to attract students from around the country and abroad. But UCS is determined to make the project a county-wide affair and is using a pioneering scheme to ensure that higher education will be offered to towns throughout Suffolk.
Richard Lister, Director of Planning and Resources for UCS, told BBC Suffolk's Lesley Dolphin that it's a priority to get the whole of Suffolk involved: "One of the things we want to do is to make sure that our reach is to all age groups, all parts of the community.
"Suffolk is a rural county and we want to make sure that if you live in a village that is relatively remote you still have the opportunities which you might have expected in a town."
UCS Bury St Edmunds, UCS Great Yarmouth, UCS Lowestoft and UCS Otley will offer degrees on a stand alone basis as well as being used alongside the Ipswich campus base. The regional campuses will be supported by smaller learning centres, which will offer facilities including broadband internet, access to the virtual UCS campus, private & group tuition, and taster sessions for mature learners, returners and school leavers.
Mr Lister says UCS, as it is a business, will be market driven. The courses on offer will be a mix of what people want to study and what employers will want potential employees to have. Business & Management and Health are expected to be the two most popular areas during UCS' early life, with Communications, Broadcasting, Marketing; Built Environment Geography; Conflict & Resolution; and Health/Well Being due to feature heavily a couple of years down the line.
Boost to the economy
As for the number of students expected to attend University Campus Suffolk, Mr Lister predicts a figure of approximately 3000 for opening - rising to around 8000 students by 2015. Based on these figures Mr Lister is confident Suffolk will see massive financial benefits, with Ipswich alone getting a boost of £1million a week.
Mr Lister is aware of the massive task which lies ahead, but he is confident that the facilities and education on offer will help lure people to the region, as well as tempting a few locals to stick around: "There will always be groups of students who have been brought up in Ipswich and in Suffolk and they want to leave, they want to go to somewhere else for their university education and that's fine.
"That will always continue - they'll want to go to Plymouth, Leicester, Birmingham or wherever. Well we want the kids that are growing up in Plymouth, Leicester and Birmingham to come here to Ipswich and Suffolk and boost our economy and lifestyle."
last updated: 26/06/2008 at 11:26